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Blackout hits Bangladesh

The presidential palace, the prime minister’s office, government offices and television stations were all hit by the outage.

Hospital intensive care units functioned on back-up generators, but ward patients suffered.

Power returned to Dhaka’s international airport after several hours during in which it was forced to run on generators, officials said. “We have already restored power to some parts of the capital and we can hope we can restore power to the whole country by the evening,” power development board spokesman Saiful Hasan said.

Power ministry official Alberuni did not identify the transmission line which had suffered the problem. But Chowdhury Alamgir Hossain, a director of the state-run Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, said the blackout occurred after a transmission line transporting power from India through a “high-voltage” substation failed.

Dhaka began importing power from India late last year through a transmission line stretching from India’s eastern state of West Bengal to southwestern Bangladesh.

“We are investigating the reason for the power cut. A probe committee will be formed soon,” said Nasrul Hamid, State Minister for Power. “Power supply has been started in some areas of the country. I hope the entire country will get back normal supply within four to five hours.”

Still, several hours after the outage began, authorities were only able to supply 400MW of power, far short of normal daily demand of some 7,000MW.

The rise in energy consumption has outdistanced economic growth in Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries, with an expanding middle-class and increasing industrialisation imposing ever-heavier loads on scant generating capacity.

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